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Friedman Billings Gets Private Equity Lifeline

Securities regulators are investigating allegations Friedman Billings may have aided and abetted insider trading by some of the hedge funds that invested in the PIPE deal the firm arranged for Compudyne (CDCY).

For Crestview, the deal with Friedman Billings is something of a coming out party. To date, the most notable transaction Crestview has been involved with was buying up some of the Puerto Rico-based cable assets of Adelphia, the bankrupt cable company. The private equity fund has maintained such a low profile that it doesn't even have its own Web site.

Crestview was co-founded by former Goldman Sachs executives Thomas Murphy and Barry Volpert. Robert Hurst, a former Goldman Sachs vice chairman, is a member of the fund's management team.

Another member of Crestview's six-member management team is Richard DeMartini, the former head of Bank of America's (BAC) asset management group. DeMartini left Bank of America shortly after it completed its acquisition of Fleet Financial.

DeMartini's departure from Bank of America was not without controversy. The executive oversaw Bank of America's mutual fund operation, which played a starring role in the nearly three-year-old mutual funding trading scandal. Bank of America paid a $515 million penalty to settle allegations that the bank's asset management arm let the now-infamous Canary Capital Partners engage in late trading of mutual fund shares.

DeMartini, never charged by regulators with any wrongdoing, was named in some internal Bank of America emails that discussed the lender's relationship with Canary.

Canary was run by Edward Stern, whose father Leonard Stern is chairman of Hartz Mountain Industries, a major New York area developer. In an odd twist, Crestview's offices are located on the 10th floor of a fashionable building Hartz Mountain owns at 667 Madison Ave. in Manhattan.

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